Just after 11:00 on Thursday mornings, the sound of music fills the Lyceum as over 200 young men at Pensacola Christian College lift up their voices in song. When the music is done, these men sit down and prepare their hearts to learn from one of the many speakers that visit the class.
Recently, one of these speakers opened his Bible behind the class lectern and shared his heart about the importance of his first ministry—his family. As students followed along and took notes, the pastor challenged them not to forget the vital role they can have in their family’s lives. Among those in the class was Deont’e Hallums (VA), a senior pastoral ministries major.
“This [discussion] has stood out to me ever since for the simple fact that it is possible that we get so caught up ministering to others that we forget about the first ministry which is at home,” Deont’e said.
In another session, Dr. Tim Zacharias, assistant pastor of Campus Church, spoke about finding God’s will in ministry. “He encouraged us to walk through open doors of opportunity when we find them,” Stephen Marshall (Jr., PA) said, explaining that there have been many messages from Ministerial Seminar that have encouraged him these past few years.
Every semester, ministerial students gain experience through Ministerial Seminar (PT 104–402) , a unique class at PCC that combines a sense of camaraderie among the students and the opportunity to learn from seasoned preachers with practical hands-on training during lab classes.
On Thursdays, all ministerial students gather to hear from pastors, evangelists, missionaries, camp directors, and faithful Christian leaders.
“Thursday lecture has always had a one-of-a-kind camaraderie unlike any other course or setting on campus,” said Dr. Rob Small, a Ministerial Seminar lab instructor. “Over 200 young men called to train for ministry meet to sing, pray, and receive Bible instruction and practical ministry tips from guest preachers.”
The class president and vice president begin the Thursday class with prayer, singing, and announcements, including pastoral internships and other ministry opportunities for summer and winter breaks. When they are finished, a guest speaker shares God’s Word with the students. With past guest preachers including Dr. Jeff Amsbaugh, Dr. Shane Lewis (Bible: General Studies ’92, M.A. Bible Exposition ’04), Dr. Marc Monte (M.Min. ’07), and Dr. John Ray, students have been given the chance to ask questions from men who have years of experience in ministry.
“What I enjoy most about Ministerial Seminar is that we have a different speaker every Thursday with a word from the Lord,” said Deont’e, last year’s president. “I have experienced an insurmountable amount of encouragement. Every class I get fed spiritually.”
These guest speakers “are acting out what I am training to do,” said Zach Lewis (Sr., AL). “It is a privilege to sit under such great preaching and teaching every week and to learn valuable things from each speaker’s respective ministry that I can one day apply to my ministry.”
On Tuesdays, ministerial students break into smaller lab-style classes and apply what they’ve been learning as they practice preaching to classmates and an instructor from PCC’s Bible faculty.
“They get one-on-one coaching as they develop their preaching, communicating, and interpreting skills: iron sharpening iron,” said Dr. Jody Wolf, chair of the Bible Department. “They become comfortable preaching in front of people starting their first semester so they can focus on the content of their messages as they go through their college career.”
“This is a valuable opportunity for each ministerial student to grow slowly,” said Dr. Karl Stelzer, another lab instructor from the Bible faculty. “They start with basics related to public communication, and through the semesters, the expectations and speaking responsibilities expand.”
In his lab sections, Dr. Stelzer not only sets up the preaching schedule, but he also leads the discussion time after students preach the message they’ve prepared.
According to Dr. Stelzer, ministerial students benefit not only from preaching but also from watching each other preach. “Preaching is not all ‘book’ or ‘lecture’ learning. There is much that is ‘caught’—by observation of others, both the negative and positive,” Dr. Stelzer said.
One thing that is different about the Ministerial Seminar lab is that it is not a lecture-based class. Rather than traditional quizzes and tests or research papers, the real “test” for these students is the messages they each prepare and preach during the semester.
Stephen, a pastoral ministries major, explained that the difference he sees in Ministerial Seminar is the unity among those in the class. “It is a class we take eight times before we graduate. As a result, you grow to know each other in a special way.”
Not only do the students get to know each other, but they also encourage each other. “They have a zeal to serve the Lord that is contagious,” said Dr. Small.
“The Ministerial Class is one of the highlights that I enjoy as pastor of Campus Church,” Dr. Jeff Redlin added. “As I stood in front of that group of men this past Thursday, I was reminded again of the great privilege it is to address such a wonderful group of young men—men who are poised to impact their world for Christ.”